Gone are the days when businesses were taking place just within a city or a country. Today is the age of the remote workforce where people are working and collaborating from different geographical locations.
We no longer have to be physically present in an office when one can seamlessly communicate with others, access documents and information from any device, and share feedback with just a click of the mouse from anywhere in the world.
The collaboration tools are indeed a big blessing in the 21st century. This being said, still many organizations are screwing up the collaboration part. According to reports, only 39% of teams reportedly complete projects on time. Around 60% of US workers consider effective communication as their biggest roadblock to success.
In this article, we will discuss something in detail that has been neglected for the longest time – collaboration mistakes and discuss how to avoid them. Before that, let’s understand the importance of collaboration both online and offline.
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Importance of collaboration
The best things turn out when people come together, share ideas, make discussions, and carry out work. Employee collaboration plays a crucial part in:
- Developing a common understanding of the full project goals
- Setting the right expectations regarding who is supposed to do what
- Inculcating a sense of belonging and togetherness within employees
- Making sound decisions for the betterment of a project and organization
- Creating transparency and encouraging involvement from all team members
- Keeping the team informed, up-to-date, and synchronized
- Driving the business forward
- Contributing to a happier workforce
However, it is not always possible to have everyone around at the same place at the same time. That’s why, many organizations are relying on online collaboration to discuss, share, and make important decisions even from different parts of the world.
Companies and businesses are making special efforts to create a collaborative environment. They are using online collaboration tools to enable employees to have seamless communication and open new doors to come together and collaborate.
What tools enable online collaboration
Luckily, many types of collaboration tools can be put to good use for a business depending on your requirements and needs. Whether you work in an office or from your house, below down are some online tools that make way for solid collaboration.
- Project management software: When working with multiple people on multiple tasks, you need a project management software offering advanced features and functionalities. There are tools like ProofHub that act as one place for all your communications, documents, and projects. You can assign tasks, add deadlines, share documents, track time, and make reports with such tools and collaborate better.
- Document sharing tools: With multiple documents being created, edited, shared, and collaborated over, it makes sense to have an effective document sharing tool by your side. The best part is that multiple people can update the same document simultaneously without any hassles.
- Communication tools: With a remote team, you can’t have daily meetings and standups to know the progress of a project. However, communication tools like Google Hangouts and Skype are great options for teams to send messages and make video calls to quickly know the updates or have a quick conversation of how a project is shaping up.
- Time tracking tools: Time tracking tools let you and your team track work hours and see the visual breakdown of tracked time. They work across multiple devices. So, you can track time from your phone or desktop computer and continue online from any browser.
Common collaboration mistakes with possible solutions
There are so many collaboration mistakes professionals commit either intentionally or unintentionally on a daily basis. Let’s look at the following collaboration mistakes along with their solutions.
- Not designing a strategy
Many companies are struggling with the problem of going all into a project or task without doing a history-check or defining a plan. A team needs to have a clear picture of what they’re going to do much in advance.
As per reports, a lack of clear goals is the most common factor (37%) behind project failure.
Solution: The first thing you must do before starting a project is to design a clear-cut strategy. If team members are clueless from the earliest stage of the process, things will go south sooner or later. It’s best to have a meeting with stakeholders at the beginning itself to discuss expectations on cost, time, and quality of the product.
- Not defining proper roles and responsibilities
One of the biggest collaboration mistakes you can commit is not defining proper roles and responsibilities in detail to team members. Project members must know how exactly a project will shape up in the future and what is expected from them.
Solution: Once the strategy is devised, the next step is to define the proper roles and responsibilities of project members. It eliminates any scope of miscommunication or confusion among team members as project members know how to execute tasks in order to meet expectations in advance.
- Not listening to team members
A true leader is someone who takes the team along not the one dictating them what to do and where to go. If a project manager likes to operate in Hitler style, he is committing a serious collaboration mistake. Employee morale automatically drops down when a manager is just using them as puppets.
Solution: Give autonomy to team members and listen to the voice of employees as they offer a lot of input, ideas, and suggestions. Every once in a while, let them take decisions – the bigger ones. It would encourage them and lift their spirits like anything. Mind you, happy employees are the productive ones.
- Not creating a supportive environment
It’s hard to inculcate a collaborative environment if there’s a lot of focus on individual performance, lack of trust within a company, overemphasis on the competition. Moreover, company values, transparency, and flexibility play a huge role in sustaining a supportive, collaborative, and happier workspace.
Solution: As a project manager, it’s your prime duty to foster a collaborative environment. Employees could voice their opinions and offer inputs without any second thoughts. When there is trust, mutual respect, and camaraderie in a workplace, employees generate more ideas and perform much better with enhanced productivity.
- Not foreseeing risks
Professionals aren’t meeting the expectation to identify and assess emerging risks due to lack of collaboration within an organization. A survey conducted in 2016 concluded that risk professionals cited lack of effective collaboration as the biggest roadblock in understanding the impact of emerging risks.
Solution: To foster collaboration within your teams and tackle emerging risks, risk committees should include voices from all over the l. Discuss global and industry trends across an organization to discuss and share takeaways from various sources on emerging risks. Encourage employees to use data and analytics to identify, assess, and manage risks.
- Not everyone is on the same page
Oftentimes, multiple people are working on the same tasks while handling complex results. If there’s an update or change in requirement, team members are not informed immediately which leads to miscommunication and ineffective results. One can avoid such problems by understanding the skills and need of team members in advance.
Solution: To begin with, make sure that roles are clearly defined and well-explained. It’s better to use an online project management software like ProofHub that shows people who are doing what and notifying them whenever an update is made. It helps team members to collaborate effectively and produce better results.
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- Not establishing skills through employee training
It takes effort and a certain level of skill to be able to collaborate effectively. Some people aren’t that great with people and communication skills. In fact, many people admit being hesitant or getting anxious even before giving an update or asking a question.
Solution: If you observe similar issues within your team, organize an enterprise training program for your team members. It will give them an opportunity to brush up their communication skills and make them more skillful at using collaboration software and systems. When people are well-trained in advance, lesser the chances of collaboration mistakes and people can take full advantage of their capabilities.
- Not giving autonomy
While autonomy and collaboration might seem contradicting terms, in reality, both go hand-in-hand. Collaboration without autonomy often leads to a culture where people might not take personal accountability of their work. And autonomy with no collaboration is quite like delivering good enough when you can deliver something great with the help of others.
Solution: Offer several types of workspaces as it is very much crucial for supporting both autonomy and collaboration. Oftentimes, employees have to switch from individual tasks to group tasks, provide collaboration tools to either work autonomously, collaborate with a team or check in with their supervisor.
- Not working together as one team
Internal conflicts and personal differences play a big role in affecting workplace collaboration. Dislikeness, rivalry, ego, office politics are some factors that prevent people from working together as one team. True collaboration happens when a bunch of people works together to achieve a shared goal which means one has to rise above such pity things and work in proper harmony.
Solution: To be honest, it is difficult to work with employees who don’t get along especially when they don’t see eye to eye. If you’re already aware of such dynamics in your workplace, it’s better to keep them engaged in different activities or groups.
- Too many meetings
It has almost become a challenge to focus on work amidst too many meetings. Moreover, holding a relevant meeting has become difficult due to the following reasons:
- It’s hard to bring different people into one room owing to their different schedules
- Sharing a meeting agenda that attendees can relate and contribute to
- Tracking progress from start to finish is nearly impossible following a meeting
Solution: Instead of holding too many meetings, reduce the number to just two meetings a week. Make sure only relevant people take part in it. Define the purpose of the meeting in advance so that people come prepared than completely clueless. If you’re not a fan of meetings, start using communication tools to enable the seamless exchange of relevant information.
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Collaboration tips to get your teams to communicate like pros
Below down are some tips (in no particular order) that could help you foster collaboration within your team.
- Align everyone right from the beginning
- Allow team members to question and brainstorm in a non-judgmental setup
- Encourage transparency as it breeds trust and allows the teams to fix issues
- Pay attention to team dynamics to diffuse the tension among team members before it starts affecting the work environment
- Celebrate team successes and give a shout-out to individual team members for a job well done
- Avoid email to communicate. Use dedicated collaboration tools instead
- Keep meetings short and sweet if you can’t eliminate them
- Frequent the communication, the better it is
- Make the work environment upbeat, happy, and productive
- Let your employees do what they need to do
- Focus on the metrics that matter and keep track of the overall progress
Collaboration makes everything better
Using these tips will help you foster better collaboration and work environment which could bring out the best in everyone. Not just it makes employees more productive but also makes them feel connected at work leading to more employee happiness and satisfaction.